MARINE CORPS AIR STATION, YUMA, Ariz. --
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill banning all forms of text messaging while driving in California Sept. 24.
The law, which follows California’s ban of all but hands-free cellular phone use Jan. 1, 2009.
“Building on legislation already helping save lives in California, I am happy to sign this bill because it further encourages safe and responsible driving,” said Schwarzenegger in a press release.
“Banning electronic text messaging while driving will keep drivers’ hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road, making our roadways a safer place for all Californians,” said Schwarzenegger.
Specifically, the new law will ban writing, sending or reading a text-based communication with an electronic wireless communications device while driving a motor vehicle. The bill would impose a base fine of $20 for a first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense.
The law helps limit driver distractions, which was one of the largest causes of traffic accidents in the state, according to the California Highway Patrol.
“I haven’t seen an issue with texting on station, but if people are, it is definitely dangerous,” said Scott Pearce, air station traffic safety program manager.
The California cell phone laws mirror the air station’s policies, and many Yuma Marines travel to nearby California on liberty.
Arizona law doesn’t ban drivers from using their cellular phones to text message or make phone calls without a hands-free device.
Drivers are still allowed to use their cell phones to call emergency service providers without punishment in California.
Beginning July 1, drivers in California were required to use a hands-free device to talk on a cellular phone while driving a vehicle.
Violations of the law incur a $20 fine for the first offense and $50 for each one after that, not including court costs and other fees.